Wal-Mart Must Pay $18.9 Million For Fatal Tire-Blowout Accident


Posted on 4th February 2013 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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A jury has awarded $18.9 million in damages against Wal-Mart Stores for an accident caused by a tire blowout that killed three people, according to Lawyers USA Online.


The panel in Maryland found Wal-Mart liable for installing a new tire on an eroded rim, which caused the fatal accident.

The three victims, a mother and her two children, were among eight people who were in a minivan that was returning from California to Maryland. The vehicle’s left rear tire had a flat when they hit Iowa, and they had a new tire put on the rim, Lawyers USA Online reported.

After a new tire was mounted on the rim, the family drove about eight hours before the tire blew out in Indiana, with Lindora Cornejo Calderon of Hyattsville, Md., and her two children killed in the accident, according to Lawyers USA Online.

Attorney’s for the three estates, as well as three others hurt in the crash, filed a negligence suit against the giant retailer and the car’s driver. The jury cleared the driver of any liability last month,

Wal-Mart’s lawyer told Lawyers USA Online that it is considering appealing the verdict.

The accident took place on Nov. 7, 2009, when the tire went flat. The group was driving east on Interstate 80 after having the new tire put on when the driver swerved to avoid something in the road, said Lawyers USA Online,

That’s when the tire blew and the driver lost control, with the vehicle rolling over several times. As a result, Vega sustained a brain injury and lost part of his right leg, according to Lawyers USA Online. Villanueva injured her  right hand in the crash.

The trial in Prince George’s County Circuit Court took nine days in January.

Two Tampa Bay Area Drivers Killed In Separate Tire Blowout Crashes


Posted on 14th August 2011 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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In separate accidents in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, two drivers were killed when tires on their vehicles blew out.

The fatal accidents took place within about a week of each other, in Clearwater and St. Petersburg.

On July 28, Terry Lee Colston, 55, of Clearwater was driving a Ford Explorer on Interstate 4 when its rear tire blew out, according to the St. Petersburg Times. The SUV, which also was carrying four children, spun and turned over.   


Colston died at Lakeland Regional Medical Center, while his son Robert Colston, 11, was hospitalized with critical injuries, according to the newspaper. The three other children in the van, Sarah Colston, 11, Jake Colston, 10, and Maxwell Watson, 10, were also treated at the hospital for minor injuries.   

Then on Aug. 6, a Palm Harbor man was killed, and his 12-year-old son badly hurt, when a tire on their minivan blew out, the St. Petersburg Times reported.


Driver Shane Chancy, 37, was driving on the Sunshine Skyway bridge in St. Petersburg when the tire went, and his minivan struck a guardrail and turned over. Chancy was thrown from the vehicle and killed. His son was hospitalized.

Jury Awards $18 Million In Rollover Death Of Boy In Case Against Dealer Who Installed Recalled Tire


Posted on 30th August 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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A California Superior Court jury has awarded $18 million to a Monrovia family who lost their 11-year-old son in an SUV rollover caused by the blowout of an aged, recalled Firestone Tire.


The jury found that Cerritos, Calif.-based American Tire Depot (ATD) was 85 percent negligent for installing a 12-year-old Firestone Radial ATX spare despite the fact that it had been recalled and Firestone inspection guidelines against using tires more than 10 years old.

Before the trial involving ATD, the Moreno family settled its suits against Ford Motor Co. and Bridgestone Americas. 

All the litigation stemmed from an accident May 24, 2006. Willie Moreno was the rear seat passenger in a Ford Explorer driven by his brother, Ramon Moreno Jr., when the left rear tire experienced a catastrophic tread separation on California Highway 15 in Riverside County, Calif.  Willie, who was wearing his seatbelt, was partially ejected in the rollover crash and died of massive head injuries.  

“This tragedy could have been easily prevented,” attorney Roger Braugh, who represented the Moreno family, said in a prepared statement. “The facts of this case showed very clearly that American Tire Depot did not offer even a minimum of professional attention to tire safety.”  

ATD had argued at trial that it didn’t install the recalled tire on the Moreno’s SUV.


In January 2006, Ramon Moreno Sr. brought the family’s 1994 Ford Explorer to ATD to replace two rear tires.  ATD, a Firestone dealer, advised Moreno to rotate the spare, a recalled Firestone Radial ATX, onto the vehicle and sold him one new tire.  

The Moreno family, who purchased the Explorer used in 2005, was unaware that the Firestone spare was 12 years old and part of the massive 2000 Firestone recall.

At the time ATD installed the recalled tire, both Ford and Firestone had issued warnings against using aged tires.  Firestone’s October 2005 dealer Technical Bulletin advised against the use of tires older than 10 years, regardless of the tread depth.

Ford also issued a warning in 2005 advising against the use of tires older than six years.  Ford’s warning stated “Tires degrade over time, even when they are not being used. . .  You should replace the spare tire when you replace the other road tires due to the aging of the spare tire.”

The tire techs at ATD didn’t follow these guidelines, nor did they check to determine if the tire was recalled, the Moreno family’s attorney had argued at trial.  

ATD acknowledged that it provided no training for its tire technicians on tire aging or how to read the tire date, which is embedded in the alphanumeric DOT code molded on the tire sidewall.  The company also admitted that it lacked any policies or procedures to identify and capture recalled tires.

An ATD store manager testified that he would provide the same service again; a company representative claimed he would expect a technician to do “nothing” if presented with an aged, recalled tire.

“In my years as a trial attorney, I’ve never come across a company that said they didn’t do it, but if they did, they’d do it again,” attorney Jason Hoelscher, who also represented the Morenos, said in a prepared statement.  “When a company takes that position, a jury needs to evaluate that company’s practices.”

Since the fatal accident, the Moreno family has been a vocal advocate for better tire safety laws. Ramon Moreno Jr., Willie’s brother, testified before the California Assembly in 2009, urging the Legislature to pass a bill requiring tire dealers to disclose tire age.

“Now all we can hope for is that Willie’s death can result in some positive change so that other families don’t have to live through what we have lived through,” Moreno, who will continue to seek legislation, said in a prepared statement.  

Sean Kane, president of Safety Research & Strategies, who has been advocating for expiration dates on tires and consumer disclosure on tire age, says that the verdict sends a strong message to the industry.

“Tire dealers and tire manufacturers must implement policies that ensure proper training to prevent aged and recalled tires from being installed on vehicles,” he said. “The failure to do so jeopardizes public safety.”


Tire Accident Foul-Up: Victim Reported Killed Is Alive, While One Believed Alive Is Dead


Posted on 26th July 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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A young Arizona woman, a passenger in an SUV, was killed when the vehicle’s tire blew out and it flipped over. But the accident caused even more heartache than it had to when authorities screwed up and misidentified the woman’s body, telling  the family of a teen-aged girl who actually survived the crash that she had died at the scene.


Humans are fallible and make mistakes, but one would hope that this kind of situation wouldn’t happen. But it has happened before. I have encountered such a mix-up in my own practice, so I know it does occur. occur.

In this instance, the relatives and friends of Abby Guerra, 19, a soccery star from Glendale, Ariz., were told by authorities that she had died in the SUV accident July 18. But in fact Guerra was lying in a hospital alive. Officials had mistakenly identified the deceased victim, who was actually Marlena Cantu, 21.

Abby did sustain serious head injuries, but she’s alive. So now her family can end their mourning and stop making funeral plans, and hope she recovers. But the Cantu family, which has been keeping watch over Abby at the hospital, believing she was their daughter Marlena, are now the ones that will have to mourn and make arrangements.

Guerra, who has a soccer scholarship to the University of Evansville in Indiana, and Cantu were returning from a trip to Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., when the SUV’s left-rear tire blew out. There were three other passengers in the vehicle with them.

Tyler Parker, 20, died the next day at a Phoenix hospital. The two other passengers, including misidentified Guerra, were also taken to St. Joseph’s Hospital in Phoenix, undergoing treatment for serious head wounds. She is in critical condition after sustaining brain injury, a broken back and a collapsed lung. Her face was so banged up, she was virtually unrecognizable. She had black eyes and her face was swollen. She had undegone brain surgery, so her head was shaved.

Unfortunately, her future as a soccer player appears dim at this point, but at least she is alive.

The misidentification was made because officials announced that Guerra was dead before the medical examiner’s office had a chance to compare medical records for a positive ID. That record check didn’t take place until a week after the accident.

St. Joseph’s said that its doctor shortage and huge volume of patients is what delayed the medical record comparison.

I’m sure that’s little solace to the Guerra and Cantu families.        


California Woman Dies When Shredded Tire Causes Pick-Up To Flip


Posted on 6th July 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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 A California woman was killed, and her husband injured, when one of their tires shredded, causing their pickup truck to roll over several times on Monday.    


The accident involved a F-250 Super Duty pick-up going north on Interstate 15 in Victorville, Calif. 

Jerry Wayne Hooker, 55, of Bloomington, Calif., was driving with his wife Gloria Lyn Ziegenmeyer-Hooker, 57, in a fast lane when suddenly his tire lost pressure. He tired to pull over, but then his tire shredded. The truck then flipped repeatedly.

 Rescuers found the couple trapped in their vehicle. Ziegenmeyer- Hooker was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hooker was taken by Mercy Air to Antelope Valley Hospital. He injured his right shoulder and had cuts on his face.

Cooper Tire Maker Sued For Fatal Florida Wreck That Killed Four Students


Posted on 13th June 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

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A negligence lawsuit alleges that a faulty Cooper  tire was to blame for an accident that killed four Jacksonville, Fla., high school students last year, according to The Florida Times-Union.   


The suit was filed by the family of one of the teenagers killed in the accident, and it named Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. and three others as defendants.

The fatal crash took place on Interstate 295 on the last day of school in 2009 for Ed White High School. The students were heading to the beach in an Explorer SUV when its left rear tire had a blowout, causing the crash. 

Four students died and four others were injured when the tread of their Explorer’s left rear tire separated. The tire was a Cooper Cobra, and the suit alleges that Cooper’s manufacturing techniques make the treads of its tires more prone to separating.

The lawyer for one of the teens that died, 16-year-old Shannon Bloom, said that Cooper has had many cases of its tires separating, causing accidents. There are numerous negligence suits pending against the tire maker.

 A spokesman for Cooper Tire told The Times-Union that the fatal accident wasn’t caused by his company’s tires or their design. The tire maker pointed out that the Explorer involved in the Florida accident is only supposed to seat five people.

But the day of the accident, the Explorer had nine people on board, and only one was wearing a seat belt, the driver Brandon Hodges. Cooper Tire also pointed out that Hodges didn’t have a driver’s license at the time of the accident.

Hodges, 16, has been charged with driving without a license causing death. He is awaiting trial.

Accident victim Bloom’s attorney contends that he can prove that the crash would have happened even if an experienced driver had been behind the wheel.

The Explorer was owned by the parents of one of the teens hurt in the crash, Rebecca Pilkington, 16.  The SUV had been in for service about two weeks before the crash, and a Cooper distributor, Big Chief’s Tire Co., replaced two of its tires.